Review: Kissing in America

Kissing in America
Kissing in America by Margo Rabb
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This review might wind up sounding like a zippy movie blurb:

“Five Stars! Heartwarming! It’ll make you laugh! It’ll make you cry! The must read YA book of 2016!” (Though I think it came out last year?)

I didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did. It spoke to me on MANY MANY levels. The blurb for the book makes it feel slightly shallow, but this book has a soul. One that I hated to put down when I had to pack something or clean something for the quickly impending move. It was beautiful!

Eva Roth is a sixteen year old girl who is in love with Romance Books, the historical and oddly/funnily worded type. Eva has been dealing with her dad’s death and trying to communicate with her mom, a womanyst and professor who thinks brushing it away is the best way to deal. She meets a guy in tutoring named Will. And falls for him. Hard. And after becoming closer with him, both sharing dark secrets about their losses and families, he moves to Los Angeles. She decides to go visit him and the best way to get there is have her best friend Annie try out for “The Smartest Girl in America”, a game show with a scholarship as a prize.

This book was like mini stories combined in one great tale. There was the falling in love. The game show. The travel across the country…and the addition of Eva’s Aunt Janet, the crazy woman who thinks everyone on the planet has an STD. (I swear she makes me laugh!)

It starts off asking what’s wrong with romance…but winds up more than a tale of love and how a teenager needs to be with her man boyfriend teenage guy friend. That’s why it seems shallow in the description. This has a lesson in life and death. Lessons in being okay with who you are whether the smartest girl in the US or a romantic or even a gung-ho girl power guru. Lessons about love gained and love lost and all the different kinds of love to hold onto or lose forever.

All told in a creative, fun way.

I’d recommend this book to any girl out there–any personality, old or young, at any phase in their life.

*A BEACH READ ~ JULY 2016*

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Review: Anything Could Happen

Anything Could Happen
Anything Could Happen by Will Walton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m really torn with this book. I want to love it so much, and yet, I can’t get behind it like that. And usually, I love LGBTQ stories…even angsty teen ones about coming out.

Which this should have been. Angsty and heartbreaking and so full of emotion. There was just a lack of that. It just was. More like an account of this thing that happened that one time without a real beginning or real end. For me, that is.

So, Tretch–aka Richard III in his family/Junior Junior–the MC who is gay, who is in love with his best friend, who is trying to navigate life in a rural town in the south…I’m still voting in the Carolinas somewhere (I might have missed it). One day during church, the bullied Tretch realizes: I love Matt Gooby, my straight best friend.

From there, the story should have flown with such speed and intensity. Instead, it walked along, sometimes even falling on its hands and knees and crawled. The events were slow, wandering, and the emotion part just wasn’t there for me. It wasn’t complicated, nor was it painful to read. Maybe I missed something??? I…I…

Don’t get me wrong, there is a story there. But it was more like a diary of I went here and did this and went there and did this and “Will I come out to my parents?” sometimes. Every time I read a new problem or event, it fell, my hopes dashed.

Then the ending…It was one of those Rules of Attraction endings where the character just walks off and your left thinking: “That was it? That’s the end? What about…?” and so on. *heavy sigh* I don’t know what’s going to happen with his parents, the bully, his best friend’s reasons for an event…

I can get behind an ending like that, but only if it feels like there’s more coming. This feels fully finished, even though it’s far from that.

So three stars. A good read, but not great. I would recommend something like Two Boys Kissing for a GREAT LGBTQ read before this one. So very sadly.

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Review: Only Revolutions

Only Revolutions
Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve been thinking about this book for days. What would I rate it and why. I’m not even sure that it’s 3 worthy? Maybe 2 1/2? I know for a fact this might turn into less of a review and more of theories I have about this book.

The love story between two sixteen year olds, Sam & Hailey.

This book was sitting in the FREE section at a local used book store. And, hey, free is free. So I double checked that it wasn’t a mistake because the paperback was going for $12/used and this was hardback. Definitely Free. Then I googled if the version mattered like it does for House of Leaves. Nope. So free book to read it is.

The publisher says it’s a novel. What the publisher doesn’t say that they probably should have is that it’s an epic poem not a novel. Would have cleared up a lot. Better information to choose whether this book is right or wrong to read.

This book (according to the publisher) should be read in alternating views by flipping the book over every 8 pages. This is the approach I took to reading it, starting with Sam (though I’ve read Hailey is the recommended start. I chose Sam, because he has the earliest date on the history timeline (It’s a sidebar on the left side of the page giving a date in history and the events of what happened that day, 9/11 isn’t mentioned, but it does go up to 2005?). Now, I will say here that if you read all of Sam’s side, then went to Hailey’s, it would work as well. Each POV coordinates with the timeline in events and slang. It’s rotations are infinite…

THE LOVE STORY: Each Chapter begins with an enlarged and bolded letters that spell out this infinite “…Sam And Hailey And…” loop. They’re sixteen year olds in love. 16 year olds with different sets of circumstances (again, why the history stuff plays a role). Sam starts out (I believe) as a slave on the run. Hailey starts out being raped. They meet. They fall in love. They live this life of teen emotion and sex while on the run from their tormentors.

I believe that the love story is just a long circling tale of all those Sam and Haileys throughout the years, that it wasn’t just the one couple, but an amalgam of all those teen loves that grow to exist then disappear. At times, they are a pure yin and yang…which when you look at the way each page is numbered–an O with two numbers within a small circle denoting which POV (Sam/Green, Hailey/Yellow) you are on. If you add a small curvy line to each of them, it makes a yin and yang symbol.

OR image2

WHAT I THINK BEYOND THE LOVE STORY: I think Danielewski disguised a love poem for an ode to the United States. (I haven’t found this theory anywhere.)

 

There’s all these mispellings that contain ALL/ONE = unity, united. There’s always “US” to be the pronoun/noun used in all caps, all the time. There is this word: FEER. It’s written in place of fear most of the time, but google told me this word is a little known Scottish descendant meaning the fencing in of a large area. And having driven all over the western half of the country from Texas westward and northward, I have seen all the “feers” in action. Then there’s places and vehicles, plants and animals…all of it listed in lyric…Pride in the US, landmarks and manufacturing feats. But, this is where that history also comes into play…the horrible acts that have gone on in our country and because of us–slavery, bombings of other places, war/War/WAR…

OR image3

Personally, I don’t like epic poems, but this was an okay one if you can get past the way some of the things are said. For me, though, it felt like it wasn’t about just one thing, but so many things. And maybe that’s where I wandered away. I did finish the book, which I was close to DNF’ing about 70% through.

I’m just not sure I would recommend this to the average reader. Maybe to someone looking for a challenge.

*A BEACH READ ~ JULY 2016*

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Review: We’re All Damaged

We're All Damaged
We’re All Damaged by Matthew Norman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Four stars to the RomCom that had me laughing.

This book I chose for my Prime/Kindle free book for May. I read the reviews and honestly didn’t think I’d enjoy it. Just a quick read with a story that piqued my interest…

…and next thing I know, I’m laughing and smiling and thinking how this book is something like Our Idiot Brother (the brilliance of Paul Rudd) meets Greedy (1990s, Michael J Fox movie). There wasn’t anything I couldn’t find to like about this book.

Andy Carter. This poor guy. He’s in his thirties. Divorced after his wife left him in the rudest of ways. Suffering what his family thinks is a mid-life crisis, having to move to NYC from Omaha. Going home for his dying grandpa. Meeting a girl…who, in her own right, is a little bizarre, a way bit weird, and so helpful when it comes to bringing Andy from his shell.

I could picture this as a movie. Sweet, funny, crazy in some spots. A whacked out family, who looks perfect to the world, but is nothing more than smoke and mirrors in their quirky ways. Sort of a straight-laced tale, but there’s always a knot in the lace somewhere. I couldn’t stop reading, it was that enjoyable.

Definitely give this one a read! I am so glad I chose it in May, even happier I decided to give it a go.

*A BEACH READ ~ JULY 2016.*

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Review: My Heart and Other Black Holes

My Heart and Other Black Holes
My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know how it happened. I was teetering around four stars until the very end when I knew FOUR AND A HALF was more the answer.

Aysel (pronouned UH-zel) is a very smart yet very depressed girl, looking for a suicide partner. She finds one online in a guy from the next town over in rural Kentucky, Roman. Once the deal is made, the two barrel
towards April 8th and their impending suicides.

From there, the story takes off on this twisting, and so very sad and depressive journey. Not only do we find out why these two want to end their lives, but whether they’ll survive beyond the first week of April.

I swear I have never read anything so down. I had to blink back tears quite a few times. There were moments where I thought I would put the book down and walk away, crying into a wadded up tissue. Only to return to the book, new tissue in hand, just hoping that maybe….oh please, oh please, oh please…maybe something would change for the better. Up until the end when I sat agog, staring at my kindle until the power died and the screen greyed.

And I was left to think about this book…way beyond…and I’m still thinking about this. It was unlike any YA I’ve read before. I couldn’t recommend this book more…It took my breath away.

*A BEACH READ ~ jULY 2016*

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